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Overcharging for Covid treatment: Panchkula private hospitals to return Rs 20 lakh, most refunds processed, say authorities

Investigating a total of 19 complaints, the district level investigation committee, set up in May by the local MLA and speaker Gian Chand Gupta, had issued recoveries into each bill which went up as high as 50 per cent of the bill amounts.

Written by Pallavi Singhal | Panchkula |
Updated: June 25, 2021 9:35:29 pm
Panchkula MC staff wearing PPE kits carry a body for cremation. (Express Photo: Jaipal Singh, File)

Private Hospitals in the city have to return an amount of Rs 20 lakh to patients which was charged in excess in the total bills which accumulated to a total of Rs 77.6 lakh for Covid treatment. The district authorities said Thursday that most refunds have been processed.

It has been ten days since the private hospitals accepted that they had inflated bills and overcharged patients seeking Covid treatments with them, while agreeing to refund the excess amounts. Deputy Commissioner, Vinay Pratap Singh, has called a meeting on June 29 to discuss refunds that have not yet been credited and to receive feedback from those who have been refunded the amounts.

Investigating a total of 19 complaints, the district level investigation committee, set up in May by the local MLA and speaker Gian Chand Gupta, had issued recoveries into each bill which went up as high as 50 per cent of the bill amounts.

Paras has maximum cases of inflation, highest charges

Of the 19 bills scrutinised, as many as 12 were of Paras. Of the total overcharged amount of Rs 77.65 lakh, at least Rs 53.6 lakh was charged by Paras alone.


A maximum amount of Rs 4.70 lakh was returned to Jog Dhayan who had been charged Rs 7.60 lakh. The charges were reduced to Rs 2.9 lakh after the administration’s intervention. The investigation committee was also set up soon after to look into more such allegations which were pouring in against Paras hospital.

The hospital has to now return a total of Rs 15.7 lakh, which amounts to 30 per cent of the bills money they charged.

Wings and Alchemist hospitals

Private hospitals Wing and two units of Alchemist and Ojas-Alchemist follow next, who overcharged three and four patients respectively. While an amount of Rs 497,151 in excess was charged by Alchemist hospital in four cases against the total amount of Rs 20 lakh; Wings hospital took Rs 177,694 in excess from three people, against a total amount of Rs 3.38 lakh.

Express impact

Two people, including Raje Singh Rawat and his wife late Savitri Rawat, who had received treatment at Wings hospital have been issued a recovery of more than 50 per cent of the money they were charged.

The two had been handed out a bill of Rs 2.58 lakh, of which Rs 1.43 lakh will now be refunded.

The Indian Express, in a report published June 15, had pointed out that hospital inflated the bill of the couple by 250 per cent. Raje Singh Rawat (65), and his wife, Savitri Rawat (59), were admitted at Wings Hospital and Heart Centre on May 2. Savitri succumbed to the disease on May 24 at another private hospital.

Investigations to continue

Even though the current complaints have been brought to an end, the investigation committee will continue to function, said BB Singhal, a member of the committee and the Haryana State Pharmacy Council.

“While almost all hospitals have refunded the excess amounts, our work will continue. We will still take in reports of excess charged and investigate them,” he said. The hospitals have also been directed to begin self-audits of all Covid issued medical bills from June 25, 2020 onwards.

“This was when the Haryana government orders of regulating Covid bills had been initiated. All hospitals have been asked to begin audits of bills since then and refund excess amounts. They have also been directed to then submit their reports to us which will be re-verified by picking up cases at random,” added Singhal.

Show cause notice to Paras hospital

The Director General Health Services (DGHS), Haryana, issued a show-cause notice to Paras Hospital, Sector 22, Panchkula, for violation of “medical ethics” and overcharging late Dr Kapil Garg, of Bathinda, for Covid treatment, last week.

Dr Kapil Garg, had been admitted to Paras on April 12 and passed away on May 3. His widow Arti Garg was forced to deposit Rs 13.81 lakh, she had told The Indian Express on May 26. As per the show cause notice, the hospital overcharged the patient by Rs 1.5 lakh.

The bill included Rs 80,000 for doctor visits during the stay of the patient. “It is very well understood that treating doctor will visit the admitted patient for treatment purposes and doctor visiting charges cannot be charged by the hospital from the admitted patient when the patient is already being charged for the room at Rs 6,000 per day (for High Dependency Unit) and Rs 10,000 per day for the ICU. This should be a part of the room charge only. Hence, an amount of Rs 80,000 amounts to overcharging by the hospital. Physiotherapy charges levied by the hospital amounting to Rs 30,000 should be the part of the ICU room charge and this amounts to overcharging by Paras Hospital,” said the committee.

“The ventilator charges billed on to patient for being more than 8 hours on a ventilator are beyond comprehension and logical reasoning. Hence, Rs 43,500 on account of the patient being on a ventilator for more than 8 hours amounts to overcharging by the hospital,” added the committee.

History

Gian Chand Gupta started receiving complaints of overcharging by private hospitals on April 18, following which he marked at least three such complaints against Paras hospital to the Haryana health minister, Anil Vij, while also initiating a district level investigative committee.

Vij had then marked an inquiry against Paras Hospital, Panchkula, for overcharging Covid-19 patients. A three-member inquiry committee on the state level had also been formed.

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